Six Japanese rappers in a ZOOM call – can I join? (Zoomgals)

No, unfortunately. But both you and I can listen to Zoomgals’ songs!

The name “Zoomgals”? They started in the beginning of the pandemic and created positivity out of something negative, taking turns performing verses in a Zoom group meeting with fun backgrounds. The Zoom concept seems to have faded away since, because lately they’ve gone over to make really cool IRL posse cuts instead. They may sound a bit like a 90s rap group while being together, but separately these artists are much more than that. Their attitudes span from bad girl to super kawaii, and their influences between hiphop, pop, rock and punk. The Zoomgal videos make it hard to spot their respective uniquenesses, but they’re obvious when you dig deeper.

The Zoomgals’ darkness/lightness levels are miles apart from each other. Marukido is the most “Japan-cute” one and at the same time the most brutal one, rapping about “barely legal high schoolers” who prostitute themselves in the Tokyo streets and the criminal organization Yakuza, and has the Instagram handle “marikudo666”. Akko Gorilla is joy- and colorful, obsessed with bananas, jungles and gorillas, and raps happily on funky beats. valknee is a unique free-floating rapper who is melodic without singing, and who explores many worlds beyond hiphop. ASOBOiSM is a more balanced artist making more “regular” hiphop which sometimes also borders to pop, and Namichie is a great rapper who walks around with a turtle in a music video rapping about “all my niggas” (I sense a wordplay but I’m not done investigating). Haruko Tajima made beautiful pop in 2017, and has since started involving rap elements while still continuing being experimental and genre-bending, and most of all she’s a green screen master making overly-energetic music videos looking like some kind of advanced Paint art.

生きてるだけで状態異常

I suspect Haruko Tajima may be the cover art designer, because they look much cuter than the music is. I like how stubborn genres can get infected by beauty like this. This is what hiphop should be like, where one member of the group is more focused on green screens than on the rap, another member smashes a brain to maximize attention and shock, and where the hiphop influences are held to a minimum. And it’s a big plus if famous Japanese sociologist Shinja Miyadai adds some madlad flavor to the posse (look yourself at 2:41).

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